Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate stroke aetiology and assess the predictors of early and late outcome in patients with heart failure (HF) and acute stroke.
Methods and results: A total of 2904 patients, admitted between 1993 and 2010, were regularly followed up at months 1, 3, and 6, and yearly thereafter up to 10 years. There were 283 (9.7%) stroke patients with HF; atrial fibrillation (AF) was present in 144 (50.9%) of them. Stroke aetiology in patients with HF and AF was mainly cardioembolism (82%) regardless of HF aetiology. In contrast, in the 139 non-AF patients with HF, the stroke mechanism was associated with the aetiology of HF: valvular heart disease and dilated cardiomyopathy were related to cardioembolism in 60% and 66.7% of patients, respectively, whereas HF due to coronary artery disease or hypertension was associated with atherosclerotic and lacunar stroke in 40.8% and 61.5%, respectively. In the overall population, HF was an independent predictor of 10-year mortality [hazard ratio = 1.54, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.29-1.83; P < 0.001]. Probability of 10-year survival was 19.4% (95% CI 14.5-23.5) for HF patients and 44.1% (95% CI 41.4-46.8) for non-HF patients (P < 0.0001). Ten-year mortality in HF patients was associated with functional class of HF, age, diabetes, stroke severity, and in-hospital aspirin use. The presence of AF in HF stroke patients did not influence 10-year survival and composite cardiovascular events (P = 0.429 and P = 0.406, respectively).
Conclusions: In patients with HF, stroke aetiology is influenced by the presence of AF and the underlying cause of HF. Early and late stroke outcome is associated with HF severity but not with the presence of AF.